Look back at 2011- Insiderally’s top 10 WRC drivers

The 2011 season of the World Rally Championships has been yet anther great season. We’ve seen a change in regulations and cars, going from the 2 litre to the now 1.6 litre turbo powered ‘rocket bee’s’. Its been a season of drama, with inner team rivalry and fall-outs, contrevsial team orders and tactics, new manufactures, record breaking results and the closest ever finish in WRC history by just 2 tenths of a second. Its been an incredible year for the sport.

Insiderally have chosen our top 10 WRC drivers. Some of the WRC boys have shown great pace and stunned the world with their performance this year, while others have put in a less than impressive performance and others have just had bad luck and a season to forget.

Top 10 WRC drivers of 2011

10 Hayden Paddon

Won the first 4 events by a gap the length of a tea break. This young kiwi certainly was one to look out for after 2010, and after getting last minute sponsorship and on a shoe string budget, he abliterated his rivals. Seemed almost unbeatable in his Subaru. Took a well deserved PWRC title after winning the first 4 events. Could have maybe also won in Spain if it wasn’t for his electrical problems before the start, Despite missing the first day, he set more fastest stage times than anyone else that weekend, proving that he has the pace an all surfaces.

9 Kris Meeke

Photo; D.Darrall

He maybe IRC champion, but its easy to forget that this guy has entered a WRC round since he was in JWRC. After being thrown in at the deep end, not only learning new stages and the World of rallying, but also having to learn and develop a brand new car, the mini countryman. Never seemed to have made it to the end of an event, due to mechanical problems and incidents until Spain, where he showed he has the pace and beat his team mate on the final PowerStage. Then in GB had an epic battle for 3rd place with Hening solberg, after taking yards of time out of him, only to loose out due to a small mistake on final stage, he showed that he could be the man for the job to help bring Mini and Prodrive up to the top.

8 Henning Solberg

Photo: D.Darrall

Only managed 9th in the championship. The Norwegian had a fair few offs throughout the season too, and had to miss one event so as to get sponsorship an funds for the 2nd half of the year. However his flamboyancy and stage end comments, no matter how much bad luck goes his way, is always fantastic. His a man with many fans due to the great character he bring to the sport. And like his brother, he never gives up. Finished the season on the podium in GB after a close battle with kris meeke.

7 Petter Solberg

Photo:D.Darrall

A disappointing year for the 2003 champ, only two podiums this season. Its been a year to forget for the Norwegian, having 4 punctures a day became normal for him, along with mechanical problems, and towards the end of the year, his DS3 just couldn’t match the factory machines. Once again had to dig deep into his own pockets for Spain and GB due to lack of funds from sponsorship. Lets get this guy into a factory car so we can see the old ‘Mr.Hollywood’ back at the top!

6 Mads Ostberg

Mads first year in a fully up-to-date WRC car, he made the most of the new generation of cars, as works and customer car were all the same, he took the fight with the big boys all the way to the end in Sweden and almost won. Didn’t seem to keep that momentum up throughout the season until the end. Mads showed great pace in GB, wen his on it, his impressive. Took his first 2 podiums this year.

5. Dani Sordo

Photo:D.Darrall

This was the first year that Dani has had a chance to show what he can really do when he isn’t playing 2nd to old team mate Loeb. And the young Spaniard didn’t disappoint. In a brand new car, The Mini Countryman WRC, and a new team, with old JWRC team mate Kris Meeke, he showed what he can do. In a car still with much needed development he took it beyond anyone’s expectations to get it on the podium on the tarmac rounds, and even fighting for a win. This could finally be a man to look out for in the future, especially on the black stuff. But there’s still that question of, ‘can he be a Loeb beater’.

4 Mikko Hirvonen

Photo:D.Darrall

It seemed at the start of the season that the old Hirvo was back and along with ford, obliterated Citroën. Took an early lead in the championship and his consistency kept him in contention for the first few events. But seemed lost for pace around mid season, pace and times seemed to come too late on rallies, plus few mistakes, didn’t really show the drive of a champion which is why he came 2nd to Loeb, very close fight on GB for the championship and gave it a bloody good go, only to crash out while leading.

3 Jari-Matti Latvala

Photo:D.Darrall

Jari has been very impressive this season, especially towards the end. Massive improvement in pace on tarmac, even pressured Loeb on tarmac in Spain, perfect team driver, always there, impressive in 2nd half of season, but mistakes at begin of season cost him and lack of wins only winning one rally this season, but that could have very different if he didn’t slow to allow Hirvonen to take maximum points on at least 2 rallies. With several stage wins on the black stuff he was the only Ford man to prove that the new Fiesta RS was competitive on all surfaces when in the right hands. Lost in Jordan after an epic battle with Ogier by just 0.2 seconds and set the highest average speed on a stage in Argentina, more stage wins than Loeb (66) putting even his own boss at Ford in disbelieve at the speed of the still young but very experienced Finn.

2 Sebastien Ogier

Photo:D.Darrall

Seb 2.0 has massively improved and for most of the season seemed to be the only guy that could match an even beat loeb. A good string of wins this season and rivaled his 8 times champion team mate on a regular bases. But the inner team rivalry set him back a little and was never wanting to play the ‘team game’ (which in Citroen camp means being number 2). This seemed to add extra presure to the young Frenchman as he tried to prove himself that he could be a number 1, and in two rallies that presure hit him as hard as his car hit the landscape while in the lead and being hunted down by Loeb. But he never gave up, and showed that not only is he a multiple champion in the making but seemed 2nd best in pace on most events.

1. Sebastien Loeb

Photo:D.Darrall

Its pretty obvious that Insiderally’s number one would be the most successful driver in a top FIA sport. 8 titles, thats more than Schuey and deserved it with his great performance this season and almost unbeatable pace (again) with very few mistakes. The only big mistake of the season was rolling 5 times out of the Aussie Rally. After Finland it looked like he would run away with the title, but after his roll in Australia and Engine breakdown on his home rally in France, he had to work hard on the final two rounds to get his 8th title, can anyone stop this man from getting the big 10.

Agree/Disagree? Leave a comment below & maybe tell us your top 10 from 2011.

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